Post Osama raid, military dogs in demand
Boston: Looks like US military dogs can look forward to a more pampered post-retirement life, with an increasing number of people lining up to adopt the four-legged canines, thanks to the role played by a highly trained explosives-sniffing dog in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
According to war dog organisations, the number of people inquiring about adopting retired military canines has risen dramatically in the days following bin Laden's death. Military dog Cairo had accompanied the elite US Navy Seals unit in the secret and daring raid at bin Laden's compound.
Cairo was tasked with tracking anyone who tried to escape from bin Laden's compound and alerting the special operations forces to anyone approaching.
Military officials say they have received more than 400 adoption applications in the weeks since the May 2 raid, a report in MSNBC said.
According to organisations, earlier, most military dogs were euthanised once their tours of duty were over, but now all the animals find a home and in some cases there is a six-month waiting list for people to adopt a military canine.
"They made a really big deal about Cairo being a super dog but all dogs in the military are super dogs," US War Dogs Association president Ron Aiello said in a report.
"These dogs are fully trained and are worth probably USD 40,000 to USD 50,000 each at least," he added.
The most common breeds of military canines are Belgian Malinois, Dutch shepherd, German shepherd and Labrador retriever.
US military dogs retire at the age of 10 and about 300 retired military canines are put up for adoption each year.
"They only have a couple of years left, so why not have them spend it with a loving family where they are not going to hear gunfire and explosives go off," said Aiello.
Aiello, a dog handler for the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, started his organisation with other former dog handlers to spread awareness about the lives and work of military dogs.
A report, released by the US War Dogs Association, said that after the Vietnam War, only 204 of an estimated 4,900 war dogs returned to US.
The others were either euthanised, given to the South Vietnamese army or abandoned, it said.
After President Bill Clinton signed a law in 2000 allowing military dogs to be adopted, 338 dogs were adopted last year, including 34 that were given to police departments and other government agencies.